A message from Louis Lalande, Executive vice-president, Radio-Canada
A lot has happened and been said regarding Radio-Canada since we presented our strategy and action plan last year to modernize the public broadcaster in line with CBC/Radio-Canada’s broader plan, A space for us all. As we begin a new year, I wanted to give you an update to explain the strategic context for our decisions, as well as provide an overview of what we have planned for the coming year, specifically with regard to the future of Maison de Radio-Canada in Montreal.
Content: A top priority
In 2015, we successfully began revamping the ICI Radio-Canada Télé schedule and implemented our multiscreen strategy, with the goal of keeping pace with our audiences’ shifting media habits. To cite one example, the exclusive pre-release of the second season of Série noire on ICI Tou.tv Extra in November has generated over 250,000 views to date – a resounding success!
Since September, we have maintained a local and regional news presence throughout the day on TV, radio, the web, mobile platforms and social media, seven days a week. Plus, the strength of our digital news offering was on display once again during the October 2015 federal election, when traffic results for our web and mobile sites shattered records. Not to mention the impact of Jean-François Bélanger’s live report from Paris on the night of the November 13 attacks, with video that was viewed over 4.5 million times on the Téléjournal Facebook page!
A work environment for a 21st-century broadcaster
Following the Canada Industrial Relations Board’s decision to review our union structures, we will now be working with three bargaining units: the Association des réalisateurs; the Association of Professionals and Supervisors (APS); and a new merged unit comprising three of our unions (SCRC, SCFP and STARF), with which we will be negotiating over the coming year. We look forward to working with them to craft a workplace that will allow the public broadcaster to evolve in an environment that’s more competitive than ever, while leveraging the enormous creative talent of our people.
More suitable infrastructure and production capability
Radio-Canada also needs to modernize its facilities to meet the imperatives of a multiplatform media environment and fulfill the expectations of a wide range of creators, including independent producers, who more often than not opt to shoot outside our facilities. That’s how we can continue to provide our audiences with the content they’ve come to expect from us.
Most of our regional centres have already moved into new state-of-the-art digital broadcast centres, close to their respective communities. In Montreal, we have already started adjusting our production capacity to adapt to the new industry reality, but we now need to rethink our facilities.
Although we recognize that many are attached to Maison de Radio-Canada and the symbol it represents, there is no denying that the current building, designed over 50 years ago, is outdated, too large, and no longer meets our needs. Staying there costs us over $20 million a year in management and operating costs.
We also have a $170 million cumulative maintenance deficit, the result of several decades of Radio-Canada having to make tough choices to protect the programming and content that are central to its mandate. With non-insulated windows, a poorly performing building envelope, and plumbing and wiring at the end of their useful life, the current MRC is in need of major renovations. This would involve substantial expenditures for the public broadcaster, whose role is not to invest in real estate.
That’s why we are currently exploring all potential solutions, including selling the facility and moving into a new building on or off our existing site. To this end, we retained the services of a real estate brokerage firm to help us identify the full range of opportunities in the Montreal market.
Still located in Montreal’s urban core, the new Maison de Radio-Canada will need to be a space that connects Canadians – a creative media hub that embodies the public broadcaster’s modernization. It must remain a dynamic, stimulating, environment that fuels the passion, innovation and collaborative spirit of the employees who work there and are the essence of CBC/Radio-Canada.
Stable funding: the name of the game
Because we are still looking to stabilize our funding, we are working with the federal government and various agencies (CMF, CRTC, etc.) to ensure that Radio-Canada continues to receive adequate financing to fulfill its mandate vis-à-vis French-speaking Canadians. We are also pursuing all manner of opportunities and partnerships to generate new revenue streams. Lastly, we will continue to revise our workflows to become ever more agile, flexible and cost-effective in our structures and management processes.
In closing . . .
This modernization will allow us to preserve our ability to produce and generate original content that French-speaking Canadians can call their own and where they see themselves reflected. We also want Radio-Canada to remain a creative powerhouse so that it continues to deliver compelling, relevant content. And last but not least, Radio-Canada must continue to evolve to keep pace with its audiences’ changing media consumption habits. That’s how we will maintain Radio-Canada’s leadership in the media industry – a leadership that’s essential to the development and vitality of Canada’s French-speaking communities.
CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada’s national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. The Corporation is a leader in reaching Canadians on new platforms and delivers a comprehensive range of radio, television, internet, and satellite-based services. Deeply rooted in the regions, CBC/Radio-Canada is the only domestic broadcaster to offer diverse regional and cultural perspectives in English, French and eight Aboriginal languages.
A space for us all is CBC/Radio-Canada’s strategy to transform the public broadcaster, and ensure that it continues to fulfill its mandate for Canadians, now and for future generations. Through to 2020, the Corporation will increase its investment in prime-time television programming and continue to create radio programs of the highest quality, while promoting the development of digital and mobile platforms and content.
Follow us on Twitter @CBCRadioCanada.